The term organic design was made popular by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The label organic design is most commonly applied to architecture, but it is also found in other types of design such as: furniture, art, industry, and typography.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Organic Architecture is a term Frank Lloyd Wright used to describe his approach to architectural design. Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor, held that “form follows function. This idea formed the impetus for Wright’s philosophy, and his assertion that “form and function are one”.
Wright was not preoccupied with architectural style as he held that each building should grow naturally from its environment. As Wright wrote in From An Organic Architecture, 1939:
“So here I stand before you preaching organic architecture: declaring organic architecture to be the modern ideal and the teaching so much needed if we are to see the whole of life, and to now serve the whole of life, holding no ‘traditions’ essential to the great TRADITION. Nor cherishing any preconceived form fixing upon us either past, present or future, but – instead – exalting the simple laws of common sense – or of super-sense if you prefer – determining form by way of the nature of materials…”
Organic Design defined by Eric Corey Freed
Organic Architect Eric Corey Freed offers the following description of organic design:
“Using Nature as our basis for design, a building or design must grow, as Nature grows, from the inside out. Most architects design their buildings as a shell and force their way inside. Nature grows from the idea of a seed and reaches out to its surroundings. A building thus, is akin to an organism and mirrors the beauty and complexity of Nature.”
Principles Of organic design
- Form follows function – The design needs to respect its user.
- The influence of nature- Nature is directed by the interaction of forces. Organic design identifies the needs of the user and the forces that arise from these needs. The design is then shaped by these forces.
- The process of evolution – Designers improve upon what came before until they reach the point where the design becomes timeless.
- The finished product as a unified whole – All aspects of the design add to the final product.
- Harmony – Architecture and design as a way to achieve a balance between the manmade and natural worlds.
Organic design and ecology
Following Wright, the organic design movement became concerned about ecological issues. Modern organic designers consider factors such as energy conservation, renewable resources, recycling, natural materials and local economies.
Features of Organic Design
Organic design is characterized by its use of natural materials and smooth rounded forms. It typically uses amorphous form which appear natural. It often imitates naturally occurring structures such as: cellular, netted, skeletal or crystalline. It leaves behind classical heavy weight-bearing structures and adopts constructions that seem to be more elastic and free. Recurrent methods include flowing lines and soft shapes, asymmetrical construction, plastic volumes and dynamic forms.
Charles and Ray Eames
Charles and Ray Eames were famous American designers. This husband and wife team shaped many aspects of American life with their architecture, furniture, photography, corporate and textile designs. They used new materials and technologies such as plywood and plastics and this made for practical, inexpensive and often sculptural objects and furnishings, which influenced the way many middle-class Americans furnished their homes.
Luigi Colani is a German industrial designer. He began his career designing cars in the 1950s. In the 1960s he started designing furniture and in the 1970s he started designing in many very different areas such as: household items, trucks and kitchens.
Organic design, which originated out of Frank Lloyd Writes conception of organic architecture, can be understood as a movement that sees form and function as one. It is an approach to design that intends to create things from the inside out and in this way mimics nature and natural forces.